Brace yourself, I may bloviate a lot here. After a discussion on fetlife about malesubs being irked at all the scammy women demanding money just for declaring themselves to be dominants, or to consider a guy’s submission. If you’ve been living under a rock, this is a thing. It’s a thing far more than the minority of male subs who fetishize handing over cash for whatever reason. So, why is it a thing?
Well, outside of the fact that humans are inherently scammy sometimes, there’s a number of factors going on here, which I’ll do my best to unpack.
Female desire is being presumed to be either identical to whatever the sub wants, or to be absent from the interaction by default, part of what feeds into cause #1.
There is limited information about kink, so people looking to become active this way have to deal with the challenge of sorting through all sorts of different norms, some of which are based entirely on fiction, and/or contain attitudes that re-enforce cause #2.
I’m not personally opposed to sex work, but the specific problem of findom-as-a-scam thrives because there isn’t really a clear separation of expectations that presume that a female dominant is not serving male desire. The barrage of ‘sex me this way plz’ messages are the other side of the same coin that allows women to announce that they deserve cash for absorbing oxygen- it’s one where female desire has otherwise been taken out of the equation. Or, to be exact, female desire is still there, but a little bit of ‘lifestyle’ polish on a professional is like a porn star having an orgasm- the desire exists only as it conforms to the package-able script.
Precisely speaking, findom scams are also the cousin of the beatings-for-housekeeping deals. By these, I don’t mean people who enjoy service, which is glorious good fun, but the all too common case where men feel like they’re making a trade of service for what they actually want- and I don’t doubt that some of the women are enjoying the inherent power of having a houseboy, but I’ve read all to many accounts from women ending wryly with that they’re going to end a session feeling vaguely used, they can at least get a clean kitchen floor out of it.
I like my strapon harness. It’s made out of sporty materials so I can just run it through the washing machine, and the O-ring system gives me a great ability to adapt. Putting stuff into people’s orifices is fun. I like penetrating people and pegging them.
Of course, because I’m also unable to have sex without over thinking things, I’m going to discuss the inherent baggage that comes with strapping one on, especially as a femdom.
If you are a female dominant, you’d have to be living in a box to not notice that wearing a fake penis is part of the stuff people automatically associate with you. Practically, a strapon is only one of the many ways you can stuff and stimulate a hole, but like a lady hyena, if you’re the top mammal, you seem to get a phallus. This association is so strong that guys into getting done up the ass routinely mislabel themselves as submissive. Much like male heterosexual transvestites also get wrongly filed under the submissive label (because panties and cross dressing as a woman are shameful, don’tcha know?) every femdom gets the joy of routinely reminding dudes that being pegged is only as submissive as they want to make it.
Of course, linguistically and socioculturally, people who like stuff in their bits deal with the fact that penetration is also generally associated with power. “Cocksucker!” is not generally used as a term of respect. There is also the problematic habit of characterizing the female reproductive system as, rather than being an internal but no less valid set of equipment, as being an absence of penis. Thankfully, the concept of “Penis envy” is generally discredited as being something that Freud got a bit carried away with (and is as probable as “womb envy” in men) but as much as the old guy got things insultingly wrong much of the time, he was correct in the way that guys and the cultural narrative they control seem to make power revolve around penises.
This, incidentally, also comes up in some of the chastity play and SPH, where again, the potency of the penis in the relationship gets to be a stand in for the potency of the dude that you are so lovingly debasing. Although this is not the rule, for example if you are showing the commitment to orgasm denial that uses topical lidocaine to numb the guy out before fucking, you’re probably not saying something about the actual equipment.
Anyway, be that as it may, it means that there’s two reasons to jam something in someone’s holes: it feels good (or bad in the right way) and for fun with symbols. I generally fall somewhere in the middle in this sort of spectrum- but I also have to admit something…
Fucking someone with a strapon is actually really hard work, and no matter how you slice it: you’re putting a non-nerve ending having artificial extension of yourself in someone for primarily psychological effect. On a physical front, It is considerably less effort to fuck someone by hand, or even, honestly, kneel down and blow the guy. Now I happen to like fellatio- I’ll never be one of those doms who never fucks. But even if you get him to ride you, if you’re on the bottom this may get uncomfortable (oomf, oomf, oomf!, quoth your dom from below, as a typically heavier male impales himself repeatedly). I really like fucking my partners this way, but it’s one of the least stereotypically “dominant” and self focused tricks in my sexual repertoire, and to be frank, since I see nothing inherently humiliating in being penetrated, this will always be an act of love.
Seriously. Wanna know what strapon sex feels like, mechanically? Try jamming a slightly soft peg into a well lubed, elastic hole hidden in two cushions, when you can’t feel the end of the peg, and you are steering with your pelvis.
Pegging is also weird because it is very much something that exists in the heterosexual space. Actually for that matter so does Futa, since a lot of the examples I’ve seen are either real transgendered people, to whom the penis does not trump their femininity- the labeling being chicks with dicks, not dudes with tits, even though the possession of other typically female characteristics like breasts in no way automatically marks that person as woman, or illustrations and photoshops of women with penises. (No really, even if you deny transgender as a thing, gynecomastia most certainly is a real phenomena). It is the thing that the lady who likes the dude does to the dude. It is most certainly not the thing that the dude who likes the dude is using as a surrogate replacement for in the lady, except in those rare edge cases that exist to derail arguments.
So with the dildo-in-harness thing, strapping one on exists in a weird zone of being a penis for the people who are otherwise categorically not penis havers, and does not trump gender. It’s very much important that I am a woman penetrating a man for the psychological impact, though bizarrely, when a guy straps something on it goes in the opposite direction as being an adequacy insult.
Mind you fucking someone raw is still pretty hot. And if I temporarily had a real penis I would probably use it on someone.
But you know that the number one impulse strapping one on gives me?
Say feminism, and 95% of your audience battens down their hatches like you said “hurricane”, or finds something else suddenly very, very interesting. Like the carpet, or their own shoes, or that urgent appointment they just remembered to alphabetically file all the food in their pantry. At least, as a femdom, I can be openly feminist and nobody bats an eye. Of course a significant number of people will confuse this with female supremacy, which is an entirely different thing. The relationship BDSM, as a whole, has with this philosophical approach is a bit more dubious.
Much of this is because BDSM is made up of people, and people have problems with feminism. In my mind part of the problem with feminism, is that it’s a really big tent with a couple of centuries of activism and writing under its belt. There is no central board of feminism, so pretty much anyone can do it, and say whatever they like. And like any big movement, it’s going to be in a state of constant internal argument. It’s also part of the left, which means that like all forms of left-y ism, it occasionally shades into woo (the Goddess!) or becomes way too self flogging for popular consumption (freegan-vegan!), or the lingo of the current generation of activism makes it impenetrable to the novice (check your cis-privilege!).
Before I launch into talking about the subject, it’s necessary to address a number of things- first of all Straw Feminists. If you’re not familiar with the philosophical ideas, it’s quite possible that you imagine a feminist to be an angry, ugly woman who seeks to do horrible things to men. This is one of the reasons why as a femdom nobody assumes I shouldn’t be feminist (at least the angry and sadistic part) which is depressing for other reasons. If your idea of feminism is about doing mean things to men, you are doing it wrong.
Of course, some, if not most of the shit that feminism gets flung its way is the same old tired misogyny that makes women expressing themselves be subject to attacks so vile that they functionally justify feminism. If you think feminists are all angry scolds, you are part of a proud tradition that dates to before women were permitted to own property or vote. And you don’t know what a feminist is.
Another thing you need to take into consideration is that feminism only exists within the bounds of the same culture that everything else does. Thus there are feminists that are porn hating prudes and feminist porn stars. There are feminists who are sexist, or transphobic, and feminists who love everyone equally. Any idea within feminism can be taken to extremes just like any other idea could.
On the other hand, I’m taking it for granted that if you are this many paragraphs into this blog post you are probably sex positive, probably pretty diversity friendly and you like lots of different kinds of people. If you don’t identify as a feminist you at least think equality is a good thing (unless you are secretly or not so secretly under the impression women should rule). If you’re not, please feel free to get nice and foamy in the comments. Additionally, I’m not going to address the “Not a feminist but…” thing in this post, but save that for another time.
But, onto how feminism gets treated in kink discourse!
I feel happy when I can take care of stuff by myself. So I went out and fetched myself a ladder from the hardware store so I could safely change a lightbulb or two. Because I am short and have poor balance (my Mummy says I’m top heavy ‘cuz of all the brains), I reasoned that I needed more than the stepladder everyone was telling me to pick up. Quite correct, I did *not* want to be the posthumous punchline in a joke about how many dominants it took to change a lightbulb or rely further on tall friends.
My apartment, though lovely, have very little natural light. Think living in the bottom of a lightwell or a basement. It’s got excellent privacy, but this gets dark at times. One other draw back about my wonderful life I feel embarrassed to talk about is the window problem…
Or rather the people on the other side of the window problem.
Fourth, bdsm in all its many forms is base. It is primal. That is part of the appeal That is the entire appeal. Either returning to a “natural” lust where the man dominates his woman and she thanks him for it, or some subversion of that primal nature (ie: femdom). Either way it is all about power and submission. I don’t think I need to explain how base sexual power is, but perhaps most people don’t know how deep sexual submission runs in humans.
You’ve all heard of Stockholm Syndrome where victims start to empathize with their captors and can even get to the point of helping them. Well there is an evolutionary psychology reason for that. As it turns out, women being taken from one tribe and brought to another to be “assimilated” was a very common practice in our early society as a species. Of those women, no doubt many resisted either killing their captors, running away, or killing their new children/themselves. Those ones tended to end up dead.
The women that accepted their new lot and became model wives and mothers to the warriors that stole them from their homes got to pass on their genes. That passed on to us all. The psychological response from submitting to someone sexually and completely runs nearly as old as the response for forcing someone to submit to your will.
Because of this we don’t really have a high ground. Vanilla people will look down on us for the primal, visceral needs we have and we will look back at them in contempt for being sexually repressed. Humankind prides itself on pretending it is more than animal. We’re just a little more in touch with reality in my opinion. (Chillbro22)
Yeeeeah, that last bit of BDSM elitism is going to fly with the vanillas. Call them less in touch with reality. Yaye!
The poor OP can’t understand why this is blistering sexism “Either returning to a “natural” lust where the man dominates his woman and she thanks him for it, or some subversion of that primal nature (ie: femdom).”
Of course when I called him out, leave it to someone else to come up with an inventive (implied) rape fantasy for me:
Women are biologically physically weaker than men. As a woman, I understand that, and this is why I love being a Domme. But there is an argument to be made about the genetic psychological inherency of female submissiveness. That is obviously not for everybody, and in no way should that be a norm in a modern society (forced submission). But he’s completely correct – if YOU were taken and actually forced to submit in a third-world or tribal setting, typically you would submit or die. This still happens with women around the world today. You can’t view everything through the rose colored glasses of your cushy modern life. (AnonymouseDomina)
Yuck. I need a shower now. I hate that the OP is incapable of seeing that his stance is pro-rape and is hung up on defending not being sexist. Kinda makes me grateful for /r/femdomcommunity.
Though poor Chillbro22 provides an interesting launching point about talking about evo-psych and kink. He meant it as a way to convince vanilla people that kinksters (specifically male doms and fem subs) were more in touch with “real” sexuality.
They’re talking about this sort of scenario:
Allegedly the first Romans got wives by abducting a bunch of Sabine women. The story, and legends like it, informs popular culture, to this day.
It’s a popular idea for the M/f set, that D/s is simply returning to some sort of natural order. Gor fans tend to be particularly enamoured with this, and the books make a big deal about how the female slaves learn to be true women, and finally get emotional satisfaction now that all choice is stripped from them.
But this sort of hindsight harkening back type thinking tends to be highly reductionist. As well as the PR harm of going around telling people that BDSM practitioners are simply primal rapists and telling people their sexuality is unnatural unless they do M/f, it very much I don’t know… blue washes the past. Never mind that individual societies are highly variable in the roles they allow for women, from out right exclusive to completely inclusive, it erases when women have been involved in society and ignore the legion of historically subjugated men.
First off, in real life, real bridal abduction (not the highly ritualized kind) is a traumatic event that doesn’t cause a woman to go into happy sub space. Case in point: in Ethiopia.
Of course you can point to the fact that the woman interviewed says she now loves her husband. On the other hand she is saying it is related to the fact that he doesn’t beat her anymore, and her marriage was painful. She didn’t go into some sort of subby trance. The ability for people to make the best of being raped and basically enslaved is not a good justification for BDSM.
The primal cave man walloping woman fantasy, outside of wanking, is shitty for a social model.
It presents a two pronged problem. In the first place it really confuses both social dominance, rape and BDSM. Additionally it assumes that what people do now is somehow un-natural and that humans have not, historically, included some kinky buggers among their ranks since time immemorial.
For example we know that throughout humanity’s history, and among other species, non-procreative sex occurs. In humans it occurs more than procreative sex. Even in a straight people fucking scenario, we take nine months to gestate, and lactation gives partial ovulation suppression. Most conceptions miscarry, or fail to implant, and humans fuck twelve months a year, every hour of the day, whether they are ovulating or not.
Even cultures that don’t generally go in for oral and anal, still masturbate. We know that sadomasochism as part of porn, though it wasn’t bound up in the trappings of ‘leather’. Even the kamasutra talks about how nice coupling induced marks are, and Georgian era porn (Fanny Hill) has an erotic flogging scene and an erotic fetishism scene in its bulging pages, while many of the BDSM tropes we enjoy today were pioneered by the Victorians. Meanwhile Saint Sebastian writhes all sexy like with arrows sticking out of him from Renaissance paintings, Japanese people were doing fun things with rope, and so on and so forth.
It might be perfectly possible the human propensity towards rape influences our kinks. I have no issue with that. But reductionist arguments glorifying a sort of problem that is ongoing today (ie the abduction of girls to be bush wives) to justify male-dom and the claim that the past was some sort of M/f buffet is fucking bullshit.
History is not a simple narrative of warrior kings and simpering princesses being passed about as property. This particular problem with historical narratives is that it in no way reflects the rich range of human expression and how we can order our hierarchies in many ways. I’m not, incidentally, even talking about societal matriarchies. Even in some of the most ghastly, sexist times, women have had power and done shit. Humans are a bit more complicated than Man 1st, woman 2nd. For example the initial European colonization of Canada was funded as a religious charity project by French noblewomen. Very tribal/family oriented cultures are infamous for putting women in positions of power before they will give the role to an outsider. Some theorists point to the “all men are equal” thinking of the Enlightenment as a period that actually took some rights away from women as they moved away from hereditary power. “Men in charge” is not a perfect rule.
But that’s neither here, nor there, as the problem with the “natural past” hypothesis is that it presupposes that we are not natural now or that we were instant Savannah transplants who went from chasing down herbivores with pointy sticks to suburban commutes. Panties are not something that occurs in nature, but plenty of people fetishize the shit out of panties. If people fetishize rape, it is just as likely they are doing it because people are being raped today, than because people were raped in the past.
Using historical sexism to label femdom aberrational is also problematic. Obviously being treated like a weird mutant and occasional curiosity is in itself inherently harmful but…
BDSM, again, is not real power. A lot of harm is done in the community, especially towards male subs, by assigning unearned real rank to anyone who can call themselves a dom. Women holding power is not aberrant, as when the society we live in allows us to do it, we seem to have the same natural aptitudes for leadership as men. Perpetuating, as AnonymouseDomina did, that me being happily silenced is only not happening because I live in a rare bubble… well, again, bullshit.
I wouldn’t “submit” in the D/s sense, because I’m not a sub. Sure any damn fool can beat and torture compliance, but any bully can bully a man too. Hell, I have it in me to be a domestic abuser. And if you think for one minute I have lived in a world free of sexualized violence, you have not opened your eyes to what modern life is like.
As demonstrated in the Ethopia article- women are perfectly capable of organizing against the behaviour. The ability to make the best of a miserable situation (one where you are beaten for complaining) is not really the same thing as D/s, nor are we kinky because “Grrr, caveman!”
This isn’t a post about abolishing sexism, it’s about female dominance and power in an imbalanced world.
Unfortunately, the sexes are not treated equally in society at large. I’m not really prepared to debate this fact in some sort of “choice to be powerless” or “so what if you don’t have power, you have boobs and tears!” thing, and this isn’t time to be all “Activate FEMINIST RAGE!”
I mean that the relationship we have with sex/gender (I’m using the two together) really colours the shit out of our kinks. I’m speaking in terms of the norms here, of course. I’m sure you know some exceptions. But look: Female subs do not heavily fetishize cross dressing, male dominants are assumed to want to fuck their subs six ways to Sunday, and when people try ineptly to justify maledom they generally grab at concepts like primal, where as gender flip keeps trying to tell me I’m a wise Mommy.
Thing is, it muddies things in that doing things a particular way becomes inherently subby, at least as porn would have you believe. Whether it is getting fucked up the ass of wearing panties, or more extreme as to refer to the underpinnings of the relationship dynamic… It’s feels like a niche.
Take a dude doing housework as a male sub staple. Actually, dudes do housework, even doms. Not as much, on average, as women of all orientations. But if men want to eat and not fester in their own filth, adults usually have some life coping skills, at least as far as trashbag or can opener operation. But I cannot move for guys writing to me to offer to clean my house. Female subs clean house, often in a way that’s just as service oriented as male subs, but they don’t offer it up front as a mating signal. Because housekeeping is something chicks get delegated with.
And the stupid femdom uniform or the fact that we use the term “femdom” or “Domme” to delineate. There’s definately a “Mistress” outfit that people expect. In practice male doms have the utilikilt leatherdaddy look, but put on some spike heels and shoot from below and -ping! Femdom. Or uncomfortable goth slut. The uniform muddies the conversation about femdom, because what you wear is often treated as important as what you do.
And there’s all the vocabulary. FLR (Female Led Reationship), I’m looking at you. As if you had to make a special category to get away from the default. Because the current standards are “traditional” (male dominant) and “equal” (egalitarian), there has to be a special term for being a dom in a TPE dynamic that coincidentally is also female dominated.
And then there’s female supremacy. The premise of it is that if women were in charge, either it would be paradise or castrating harpies. Curiously, I can think of few explicitly male-dom world ideas that are not rape happy weirdness. It’s less popular, as a kink, and nobody who gets hot and bothered about the idea thinks that men being in charge is better.
Because they already are occupying most of the top spots. So I find myself in the awkward place of telling people to stop calling me perfect. But I live in the world I do and it’s going to colour all our behaviour.
One of the great unkillable D/s narratives is the dom-as-leader. Honestly, as long as you don’t take it seriously, it is hot. On the other hand, since so few women get to be leaders, at least compared with men, it seriously colours the fantasy. And it is to the point that an expression of being your own person, as a woman, codes as being dominant. It’s like we can’t completely escape hierarchy thinking.
I think one of the reasons why male subs get so much crap is because they are assumed, if they are beneath a woman, to be beneath everyone. Like some sort untouchable caste, in a highly hierarchical pecking order (and D/s is often about getting off on abuses and strengths in extreme power disparity) subs of both genders get shamed in the fashion that is typically used to batter their gender.
And the stakes are pretty crappy for a dude. While women are coaxed into infantile passivity, and made to be concerned with sexual purity… men at the bottom get all sorts of fetishes that are related to how men have been historically pushed down and about stripping them of male privilege and treating them like women- they are pussified (and I use that term deliberately), cuckolded, denied sex and put through forced bi. And yet the comparative approach to bisexuality in sub women is generally about sister slaves, and putting on a show, and lesbian female dominants. fucking women is presumed to be something that everyone wants to do.
All that aside, when we construct BDSM fantasy societies, there’s plenty of egalitarian examples. Whether the concept is a secret world within our world or a whole planet of kinky people though, again you get the perennial bi women. It’s to the point that the hard ass second in command to a head femdom is a kink cliche.
So where does that leave you when you are femdom fantasy building? Technically it’s a fantasy so you can do anything you damn well please. If you want a lady with a harem of bisexual slave boys who doesn’t even understand the concept of gender, much less descrimination, you can knock yourself out. But like how the genres of fantasy and sci-fi are lamentably tainted by the cultures that birthed them, and keep serving up patriarchy in the far future and magic-far-away-land, femdom’s presumed tropes are well attached baggage.
I did it in my own work. Catamite, despite being scifi, is set in a very patriarchal world. It’s actually much worse than anything I personally have ever dealt with, being neo-Victorian. Annette, as a character, has an unusual amount of liberty for her imaginary geography. This is not really a spoiler, but this is intentional in a place where the world the characters are living in is actually one of several planets, and the place they are in is very much a weird cultural backwater. I wanted a society with vast inequality, I did not want an amazon fantasy land and apparently this is what I defaulted to.
I wonder if my interest in that means that I still am constructing power in relation to men and unfairly excluding women from the picture? Catamite doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, though in part because it is a story about heterosexual relationships. In theory it wouldn’t pass in the opposite direction- I don’t think there’s a single male-on-male conversation where women aren’t the focus in Catamite either.
On the other hand it means that my domly-dom character is still subordinate. There’a a bit of me that wonders if I’ve created something straight out of the Office skit about not being the one truly in charge even in the infinite realm of possibility.
Dwight: I am gonna be your new boss. [laughs] It’s my greatest dream come true. Welcome to the Hotel Hell. Check in time is now. Check out time is never. Jim: Does my room have cable? Dwight: No. And the sheets are made of fire. Jim: Can I change rooms? Dwight: Sorry, we’re all booked up. Hell convention in town. Jim: Can I have a late checkout? Dwight: I’ll have to talk to the manager. Jim: You’re not the manager even in your own fantasy? Dwight: I’m the owner. The co-owner. With Satan! Jim: Okay, just so I understand it, in your wildest fantasy you are in Hell and you are co-running a bed and breakfast with the devil?
So is it some sort of sexism on my part that the setting I threw together to provide a great range of power imbalance is extremely male dominated as a side effect? Probably. I was also interested in writing about how Annette navigated the space she was in, and how power is very fluid and unreliable, yet I still did a retread of the patriarchy.
Be that as it may, if you fetishize power imbalance, even if you disapprove of them in practice (like a person with a rape fantasy), the bullshit around gender is also fantastic source material. I don’t necessarily think I conveyed it properly, but Adam/Phillip’s behaviour is supposed to have been guided by his own relationship to the masculine expectations of his culture.
And yet, fetishes seem to by and large follow cultural trappings. I understand that cultures without much ethnic diversity with inequality don’t really get up to as much of the weird ass “interracial” stuff the US spews out. If, perchance, we stopped having weird inequalities based on your perceived chromosomes, would this eliminate thing like cross dressing being used as a punishment?
So what would dominance be if there wasn’t some sort of significant gender imbalance?
I have no idea where this lovely homage to a classical painting came from, but if you know the artist please tell me.